Room at the top

Bar manager Peter Van de Reep seeks out spirits that are a cut above

“Upstairs” at Campagnolo bar manager Peter Van de Reep. Lou Lou Childs photo.

At “Upstairs” at Campagnolo, the intimate restaurant and bar above Campagnolo’s Main Street location, you don’t have to reach for the top shelf to find a choice selection of spirits.

Bar manager Peter Van de Reep prides himself on eschewing the entry level Bourbons that can be found at any lounge or hotel bar—in favour of stocking more complex offerings.

He shares a commitment to supporting local, sustainable products with Campagnolo’s Executive Chef Robert Belcham, and also brings in the best of B.C.’s spirits and aperitifs.

“We’re trying to go a step above,“ says Van de Reep. “So you use spirits that most people aren’t using in their well. And it means you get an obviously better cocktail.”

He began his cocktail education as a serious student of the bar, poring over books and studying the techniques of Vancouver cocktail legends Jay Jones, Chris Mason Sterns and Christopher Flett.

Van de Reep now keeps upwards of 100 different cocktail recipes swirling around in his head, drawing on them to get to the root of what each customer wants when they walk through the door.

“It’s like a flow chart,” he says with a grin. “You ask somebody if they want a boozy and rich drink, or if they want something more refreshing or easy going, and you sort of narrow it down from there.”

Or, you can just ask him for a recommendation.

This winter, he’s excited about the Amaro Abano bitters from Italian liqueur company Luxardo. He built his Mile Zero, a wintry take on a Boulevardier, around them, incorporating American rye, and vermouth from Vancouver’s Odd Society Spirits.

“It almost smells like a really high-end cologne,” he laughs. “It has really complex aromas of cedar and other fragrant woods and spices. I don’t wear colognes, but every once in a while you come across one where you’re like, “Wow, that’s an incredible scent.’ This is one that you can actually drink, and it’s delicious.”

Upstairs at Campagnolo
1020 Main St., Vancouver • 604-484-6018

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